The Dominican Republic has one of the highest rates of bullying in the South American and Caribbean areas, according to an article in the news website Diario Libre. Citing various studies that showed 60 or more percent of students have been victims of bullying in Dominican Republic. There were studies in 2011 and in 2014, and the results changed very little.
This study also showed that as many has half of Dominican Republic students are also victims of robbery and general violence.
There are several activists in the region who say that any form of violence by an authority figure can teach children to be bullies. Bullying is often characterized as a person who is stronger, or in a more powerful position, abusing a victim either verbally or physically. They see corporal punishment, at school or at home, as examples of this. There are many reasons why people bully and this may be one.
The National Multiple Purpose Survey of Households in 2010 found that 67 percent of homes use this type of punishment on their children.
Alberto Peralta, director of Public Policy for National Council for Children and Adolescence, said “This thing of putting the children out in the sun, making them kneel down, the specter of the “ruler” or the “flying eraser” still appear to us as cases,” he commented.
There is a law in the Dominican Republic that establishes the right of children to have an education, and at least it is implied that they should also be free of abuse.
Peralta aid the family, the community and the school are all walls of protection for children. When children end up in the streets because they have been kicked out of school, or out of the home, it is because these institutions have failed.
There have also been laws passed recently that specifically making it illegal to bully another person, either verbally, physically or with cyberbullying.
While laws against bullying can punish those that do the bullying, many experts believe this is not a good enough of an approach. Bullying information, and facts about cyberbullying along with bulling awareness are seen as good starts.
Sociologist Carolina Bascuñán says these laws fall short because they focus on damage control and don’t do much toward prevention. She said to stop bullying you will have to work with children, the entire education community and the families, because the system itself excuses and even encourages aggressive behavior. These institutions should be in charge of preventing bullying instead, she said.
The long term effects of bullying is lower performance in the classroom. A study called “Latin America: Violence among students and school performance,” which was done by the Economic Commission for Latin America in 2011 showed significant drops in many cases in math and reading test scores for students who had been bullied. The study surveyed 91,000 sixth graders in 15 Latin American nations and found around half had been bullied in some way.
Students in sixth grade were chosen because middle school bullying is the most common age for bullying, and these are children between the ages of 11 and 14.
According to this study there were significant differences in academic performance for students who had been bullied and at times for those that had witnessed bullying. The study also found differences in countries as to the affect bullying had on performance. In some areas math was affected more, and in other areas reading suffered.
For this study, 6,511 students from the Dominican Republic, in 202 schools, were surveyed. The Dominican Republic was in the top five in nearly every category of bullying, and above average as far as the amount of bullying. The survey showed 59 percent said they had been bullied in some way. Breaking that down further, 22 percent said they had been physically bullied and 29 percent said they had been verbally bullied.
The survey showed that 70 percent of Domincan Republic students had witnessed bullying in some way, or knew someone who had been bullied. Of those, 38 percent said they saw physical bullying, and 35 percent said they saw verbal bullying.
Each country is unique though. The surveys were given along with standardized testing that students normally take. In the Dominican Republic math scores remained the same for kids who had been bullied. Teens who had been bullied saw their reading scores fall by an average of 7.1 percent. The regional average for both is around 10 percent.
It is interesting that witnessing bullying caused more of a decline in math than actually being bullied. The study showed that witnessing bullying, or having classrooms disrupted by bullies, caused a 3.5 percent drop in math scores, and the regional average is seven percent. Witnessing bullying caused reading scores to fall by 8.4 percent, above the regional average of six percent.
Even having a nobullying program in place does not stop bullying. It takes the entire community to stop bullying in Dominican Republic. Bullying statistics further show that 14 percent of high school children consider suicide as a result of bullying, and half of them actually attempt it. When it does happen it is often hard to say whether bullying was the main factor, but officials think it is a factor. Gay and lesbian students are also often targeted by bullies. Cyberbullying, such as internet bullying and facebook bullying are also getting more attention as there is more use of cellphones among teenagers.
Often if it is not stopped, it continues as high school bullying, and then goes on into adulthood. There is office bullying and workplace bullying when people become adults. Very often those that were bullies continue to bully others, and those that were victims continue to be victims. Childhood bullying is seen as more serious by many, because it affects the person the rest of their life and can influence who they become as adults, but that does not mean it does not happen to adults. There is workplace bullying as well as office bullying.
Bullying experts say parents should watch for signs of bullying so they can help. If a child suddenly stops taking interest in things they were interested in, or start doing drastically worse in school, there may be some bullying going on. The thing to look for is a change in behavior, especially if property is being lost that cannot be accounted for. Parents are encouraged to talk to their children and find out what is going on if they notice these red flags. They should also take their children seriously when they talk about being bullied.
There are also many strange stories about bullying. One that comes from the Dominican Republic bullying is the story of three bothers who had a rare genetic abnormality. The three brothers each grew large breasts, though they were boys in all other respects, and were bullied and teased for a long time. Eventually they got enough public support to have surgery to fix the problem. The incident happened in the rural town of Magueyal.
A UNICEF study said that while there are some laws on the books that address abuse, and children are guaranteed the right to have an education, the law against bullying in Dominican Republic is often ignored and no evidence that there are any serious government run programs to prevent or control bullying.